Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

So you want botox, but what exactly is it?

Botox? Nothing new really. Makes you look young, right? Gets rid of lines? Instant facelift! People have known about botox for what seems like forever. A bigger question still: what even is botox? Is it true once you start, you can’t stop? And when should you start using it?

We caught up with Nurse, Ally Hanby from Cosmetic Avenue clinic to deliver the lowdown on the cosmetic procedure. 

What actually is botox?

‘Botox’ is a brand name, like Kleenex is to tissues, Dyson is to vacuums. Botox, Dysport and Xeomin are all brands of commercially available forms of botulinum toxin, available in Australia, used to improve the appearance of wrinkles.

The botulinum toxin is highly purified and made into a very concentrated, and safe form. When injected into a specific muscle, it will temporarily stop the nerve signal from being released to the muscle. It is a highly localised effect. It is safe, and strictly controlled with stringent manufacturing processes, and is used throughout medicine from top to toe to help relax muscles.

How does it help?

Over the years, our facial muscles contract and relax tens of thousands of times a day, as we laugh, talk, grimace, frown, smile, squint, and generally express our emotions and reactions through our face. The overlying skin is subjected to innumerable muscle contractions, scrunching, stretching, wrinkling time and time again. When injected, it is possible to target and relax specific facial muscles and reduce facial wrinkling. Over time, the fold lines wear the dermis depletes and wrinkles start to appear even at rest. Anti-wrinkle injections may help to prevent this.

How can you ensure the botox you are being given is safe?

It is difficult for a customer to know brands, effectivity or the correct concentration used, in addition to knowing the right points of injection.

In my opinion, the most important and single advice: ensure your treatments are delivered by a suitably qualified, credible and experienced medical practitioners, who are licensed to prescribe anti-wrinkle injections— a non-medical professional is not accountable for any aspects of any treatment. In relation to the product used, ask the name of the product and if it is licensed in Australia. The medical professional should also inform you of possible side effects and complications before treatment.

Who should get botox and who should avoid it?

The aim of botox treatments in cosmetic medicine is for the treatment of lines that appear with facial expression, especially the ones in the forehead, crows feet and frown. The moment to start having treatment, in my opinion, is when those lines start ‘etching’ the skin. However, even stronger lines of expression can be completely removed or at least significantly reduced in later stages. Folds and furrows, especially in lower face and that do not reduce when resting the face will not improve with botox treatment — the lower face is also a riskier area for treatment, as it can cause smile or mouth movement changes. 

How often should you get botox?

Facial botox needs to be repeated every three to four months to maintain treatment results. Some people, especially those having botox as a preventative treatment, might only repeat treatment every six months. Those getting botox to aid with hyperhidrosis (sweating excessively) and teeth grinding tend to require a new treatment at every six to eight months.

Where should you get botox?

The three areas most commonly treated are the frown area, foreheads and crows’ feet. These areas respond well to treatment, with great impact in softening lines and wrinkles. The ‘bunny-lines’ tend to be treated, if needed, at the same time, especially if crows’ feet are being treated. Jawline definition and neckbands respond really well to treatment and give a sharper contour of the lower face.

What are the benefits of botox?

Botox is a very simple treatment, with minimal risk of long-term side effects and complications. It has significant impact in improving lines and wrinkles of expression, giving a more relaxed facial appearance. Results are visible in a few days and last for 3-4 months, needing to be repeated 3 times per year to maintain results. 

The use of small doses of botox ensures natural results, normally noticed as a relaxed or fresh facial appearance. It also doesn’t produce any volume changes of the face, that can, in some cases, be noticeable. 

What are botox myths?

In my experience, thinking that anyone who has botox treatment will look unnatural and that everyone will notice facial changes. Treatment can be balanced to give natural results and there is no need for it to be overdone – that is a choice of the patient or the medical professional, or both. ‘Baby Botox’ is a very subtle use of botox that soften lines, keeping some degree of expression, and maintains a very natural appearance.

The second biggest myth is that botox is poisonous and that it will affect the body. Also that the long-term effect is unknown. The use of botox started in the Eighties and no long-term side effect has ever been observed and no toxic effects of the treatment.

The third is that once treatment is stopped, lines will be worse. That is not only a myth but also mistaken information. Once botox treatment stops, lines and wrinkles will gradually return. That is all. However, lines will be softer with someone who had botox when compared with someone who never had the treatment. 

Last but not least is the view that botox and fillers are the same and that they produce the very same unnatural results and can be used to completely remove lines and revert the effects of ageing. At Cosmetic Avenue, we understand the importance of keeping patients focused on what can actually be achieved, and avoiding treating them with unreasonable and unreal expectations.